10 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Inspires Them to Keep Going


These founders share how they stay motivated when times get tough.

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1. Providing the opportunity to be an entrepreneur to everyone

1 / 10
Harper Reed

2. Hard work throughout the entire company.

2 / 10

3. Passionate people

3 / 10
High West Photography

4. Customer feedback

4 / 10

5. New opportunities

5 / 10
Nicole Franzen

6. Audacious ideas

6 / 10
Bloom That

7. Getting involved in the community

7 / 10

8. Empowering others

8 / 10
Lucky Iron Fish

9. The world’s ability to change

9 / 10

10. Teamwork

10 / 10
  • ---Shares
Staff Writer. Covers media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

There is no one right way to get inspiration. It is deeply personal and derives from what is important to and what drives you. But no matter where you find it, it is often an integral part of what keeps you going when times get tough.

We asked 10 entrepreneurs to open up about the things, actions and people that make them engaged and wanting to make a difference.

Here is what they had to say.


Name: Harper Reed

Company: Modest (now PayPal)

Inspiration:The democratization of access, of giving people opportunities. One of the main reasons I was so excited when we sold our company to PayPal is because PayPal has been doing this for a while: giving people access to things only large companies with resources and wealth are able to accomplish. Hearing our CEO speak about these things is inspirational, because he believes that this is a huge part of PayPal.

Read more about Reed: This Entrepreneur Shares the Most Important Factor of His Success

Name: Chieh Huang

Company: Boxed

Inspiration: The folks in our performance centers who do a very difficult job. My life at Boxed started there -- the CEO was packing boxes at the start, too. There are a lot of people counting on us to make the right decisions to make sure that we do well, so they can put food on the table and that inspires me.

Read more about Huang: The Surprising Reason Why This Founder Says Not to Be Afraid of the Competition


Name: David Perkins

Company: High West Distillery

Inspiration: Being around passionate people. They are always contagious for me and they get my juices going. And they come from all walks of life, not just famous artists or musicians.

I remember a summer job I had in college where I worked in a warehouse as a puller and packer. It’s about the most boring job you could ever imagine. I really liked one of the older guys that worked there as he was super intelligent, and we always had great conversations at lunch. He rode the forklift around with a big smile and would tell me to do my best and be the best at the job I was doing, no matter what. He exuded passion for his job when he was on the warehouse floor. It made everyone feel good. I think of him all the time when I interact with anyone on the job.

Read more about Perkins: This Founder Ditched His Career at 40 and Turned a Hunch Into Millions


Name: Heidi Zak

Company: ThirdLove

Inspiration: I think what inspires me the most are our customers. I specifically set aside time to read customer chats, reading the positive comments of course is awesome, but I also get a lot of value from the things that we can improve on. I read those conversations and get inspired to do things better, change things and develop products based on that feedback. That inspires me every day.

Read more about Zak: This Founder's Best Advice for Entrepreneurs: To Succeed, Entrepreneurs Need to Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable


Name: Jennie Ripps

Company: Owl’s Brew

Inspiration: I am inspired by the fact that every day is a new day. I really think that there is an opportunity in every day, especially when you’re building a business. You never know what is going to come, and I get really excited when I wake up.

Read more about Ripps: The One Thing This Entrepreneur Does Each Day to Stay Productive


Name: David Bladow

Company: BloomThat

Inspiration: I’m really inspired by Elon Musk. I think he gets people to think bigger and shoot for these outlandish feats that are good for humanity. Having people thinking about ideas that are audacious is a good thing to spur people on. I’m not shooting to land people on Mars, but it’s good for people in general.

And my grandpa. He was from North Dakota, had an eighth grade education and hopped a boxcar to California to make a success out of himself. He started a couple of furniture stores, and at the peak of his career had 10 stores. He was a guy who started with nothing. I always was inspired by his courage.

Read more about Bladow: This Founder Has 3 Simple Tips to Achieve Maximum Productivity

Name: Jeff Chapin

Company: Casper

Inspiration: I’m inspired by good citizens, people who contribute to their communities. So much of society relies on good citizens to function, but it's not talked about all that much. They're everywhere in the country, filling holes that our government can't fill. I am blown away by dedicated people helping hold society together.

Read more about Chapin: Behind a $100 Million Mattress Startup, Casper Co-Founder Shares Advice on Finding Success as an Entrepreneur


Name: Gavin Armstrong

Company: Lucky Iron Fish

Inspiration: Making change and empowering people. I'm a big believer in the power of one -- that one person, one action, can have a ripple effect that can make a difference.

Read more about Armstrong: This CEO Has Helped Thousands -- and He's Just Getting Started


Name: Oliver Kharraz

Company: Zocdoc

Inspiration: The fact that change is possible. If we look back at what's been achieved in the face of incredible odds, it’s amazing. The fact that our forefathers were able to get rid of a well-entrenched dictatorship that had an entire continent for a few thousand years and then establish something new on a concept of mutual checks and balances and understanding of human nature. It set an overwhelming precedent. Compared to that, whatever problems I face seem extremely solvable.

Read more about Kharraz: This Founder Says to Succeed You Need to Question Everything


Name: Tim Chen

Company: Nerdwallet

Inspiration: I’m really inspired by the possibility of change and how to seize that. I believe those things start with a combination of proving something is possible, telling the right people about it and then pick up the torch and carry on from there. The right way to think about it is planting the seeds of what is possible and enabling a lot of people to go after it.

Read more about Chen: Nerdwallet's Founder Shares the Worst Advice He Ever Got


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